Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cap'n Howdy's 2015 Recap(ish): Preamble and Worst of List

 As you might have noticed, the lights have been dim at the Blogorium for most of this year. While the Cap'n is still watching movies regularly, it's increasingly apparent to me that I just don't have the desire or drive to keep writing and posting reviews, even sporadically. There are nearly a dozen half finished posts that may never see the light of day, and it's very unlikely that coverage of 2015's Summer Fest or Horror Fest will be appearing any time soon. At a certain point, you have to admit you just don't have it in you anymore, and I'm nearly there. Not being a Twitter kind of guy, I'm not really sure how to spread the word about movies worth seeing or worth avoiding, but unless inspiration strikes (or it's Shocktober), I can't promise you'll see much more from Cap'n Howdy moving forward.

 To be honest, I debated even doing the recap this year, because it's far more time consuming than you'd think - if I'm going to talk about a movie, it's important to me not to just have one or two pithy lines and move on, which was what I used to do and has rendered old posts unreadable - but there are enough films from 2015 that are worth mentioning in one way or the other that it is worth doing at least one more time. Most of them weren't reviewed in the first place, or I hit a wall with the original review (Avengers: Age of Ultron is a great example, as I mentioned in the Ant-Man review). This year I'm going to try to hit a happy medium between "Quick Review" and "too short". To be honest, some of the movies at the bottom of the list just don't deserve much coverage, and I'd like to avoid another six or seven part "middle" section. In years past, that can take weeks to finish, which is why these usually show up in the middle of January.

 Let's start at the bottom and work our way up, but it won't take so long this year. I promise. I thought I had seen quite a few new releases in 2015, until I watched a few recap videos and realized, no, not so much. There hasn't been much that scraped the bottom of the barrel, but when it did... who nelly.

 88 - Is it telling that I honestly can't remember much about 88? I saw it early in the year, primarily because you don't see many starring vehicles for Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, American Mary), but this Memento-esque crime thriller / action / mystery is too disjointed for its own good. It haphazardly jumps back and forward in time, piecing together the mystery of how  (Isabelle) lost her memory, her finger, and ended up on the wrong side of some gangsters. The conceit is that she entered a "fugue state" and can't remember what happened, so we're slowly introduced to information in the form of flashbacks, presented out of order to deliberately lead us in one direction, only to pull the rug out. Isabelle is pretty good, as is Christopher Lloyd, playing against type as a sleazy strip club owner / possible drug kingpin, but in the end, it's mostly not worth remembering.

 Unfriended - The review from Shocktober tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this movie, which had Horror Fest-ers regretting their "Choose Your Own Trappening".

 Knock Knock - I really considered putting both of Eli Roth's movies on this list, but The Green Inferno is at least viscerally engaging, save for the inexplicable (and jarring) tonal shifts. But more on The Green Inferno later. Knock Knock, on the other hand, was a slog from start to finish, a dumbed down, millennial-ized take on Michael Haeneke's Funny Games by way of Hard Candy without a single character to care about. I don't care who you're supposed to sympathize with in Knock Knock:  Evan (Keanu Reeves) or Genesis and Bel - the two girls / women who he cheats on his family with and then tie him up and play "games" - it doesn't matter. All three main characters are horrible people and aren't worth spending 100 minutes with. Seriously. I was tired of Knock Knock halfway through, and it only got worse as it went along, playing with implications of pedophilia and entrapment and casual murder or whatever we're meant to take from the accident that kills his wife's assistant and then is framed to look like  killed him. Who cares. There's no tension in Knock Knock, no flair, and Reeves in particular does nothing to elevate his character beyond "guy who deserves something for what he does but behaves like he doesn't" even if you consider the "punishment" the ladies dispense disproportionate. In fact, who cares? It's making me angry even thinking about this movie again. Moving along...

 Fantastic Four - While the review covers most of what I would say, the ultimate problem with Josh Trank / 20th Century Fox's mangled hybrid of a movie is that it isn't even bad enough to be worth seeing. It's a movie with interesting ideas that are underdeveloped or simply abandoned halfway through, and then it's just a generic comic book movie. You might have been led to believe it was worth checking out, but you're just going to be disappointed that you wasted your time.

 and now for this year's Best of the Worst... or Worst of the Worst (take your pick)

 Terminator Genisys - While I'll go ahead and link the half-review from Summer Fest, I don't feel like that quite does justice to just what a mess Terminator Genisys is. It's misguided, corporate thinking at is very worst: a story designed to reboot the Terminator series (again) using actors who are currently hot with the "target audience" (?) - Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), Jai Courtney (Oh, who am I kidding?) - with a director known more for Game of Thrones (Alan Taylor) than the fact that he made the Thor sequel everybody but me seems to hate. Arnold Schwarzenegger is given the most dialogue a terminator has ever needed to spout, plus a few of the lamest "gags" in the series - and we're talking about a post "talk to the hand" series here - and still walks away most unscathed. Well, "upgraded". I guess you make your lead a T-1000 at the end (SPOILERS BECAUSE, WELL, WHO CARES?) so that he can conveniently morph into another actor when Arnold asks for too much money or just doesn't want to do another one. And oh yeah, despite how terrible Genisys was, the braintrust responsible for this mess are planning on keeping that "trilogy" idea alive.

 Let me tell you folks, I am surely interested in seeing who sent "Pops" back to the 1970s to protect Sarah Connor, or who sent the T-1000 to kill young Sarah and also conveniently programmed it to know exactly when and where Kyle Reese would be arriving just in case it failed to kill Sarah Connor and then not find her at all for the better part of a decade. I'm quite keen to see more of Matt Smith as the embodiment of Skynet (now Genisys), and let's not fool ourselves, the inevitable return of Evil John Connor as the T-Whatever. Foiled by magnets! How do they work? I guess we'll also see more of J.K. Simmons as "Academy Award Winner Who Snow Dogs-ed His Way Into This Movie and Does Nothing" in the presumable sequels, set in 2017, because Terminator and Terminator 2 no longer happened in this timeline. Actually, none of the Terminator movies are still canon, save for Salvation. Take that, fanboys! The last Terminator movie that failed to kick start a new trilogy is the only Terminator movie that wasn't retconned but Genisys, and that's only assuming that Kyle and Sarah somehow fail to prevent Judgment Day and then travel back to 1984 to have John Connor.... so actually, okay, Salvation is probably out, too. Sorry, Sam Worthington. You were Jai Courtney'ed out of existence.

 Genisys is a movie that's so stupid and poorly constructed that not only does it feel the need to undo the entire Terminator series in an effort to "reboot", it also has to explain it to you every step of the way by excessive monologue-ing. It might have helped if Emilia Clarke or Jai Courtney had an ounce of charisma in their performances as Sarah and Kyle, but they don't. They also have no chemistry at all, and maybe we should be grateful that they can never give birth to the future leader of the resistance. At least Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) seems to have fun as the Evil John Connornator, so his long, stupid explanations of the new timeline are slightly less boring than listening to Clarke and Courtney bicker incessantly. Clarke and Schwarzenegger are the best parts of the movie, and credit to Simmons, who has nothing to do in the film but gives 110% selling this stupid bullshit. Yeah, I'm reduced to profanity, because that's what Genisys is. Bullshit. I'm going to prescribe to the Back to the Future Part II "alternate timeline" theory and just pretend that Doc Brown and Marty can undo this clusterfuck of a movie and we can go back to a world where James Cameron isn't shamelessly shilling for this garbage. At least until Terminator Mastyr Systim and Terminator Drymcast come out. Did I mention that the producers want "audience input" in making the sequels better? Because they don't know what they're doing with the Terminator films?

 Here's some input: hire someone who can write a good script, then hire a director who can make a good movie. Maybe change the cast based on the best possible actors instead of who's "hot" right now. I know, I know: thinking in "quadrants" and pandering to Chinese audiences is going to make those suggestions literally impossible, but Terminator Genisys makes my brain hurt. Quantum Magnetics. 'Nuff Said.

 That's it. I saw five terrible movies this year. Well, five terrible movies made this year, anyway. There were some other ones, but not from 2015, and the next step up doesn't even come close to how useless these five were. But we'll get to those soon enough. Hopefully I won't have to re-edit this and put The Force Awakens on it... but I did live through The Phantom Menace. And then Attack of the Clones. And then Revenge of the Sith. There are no guarantees anymore...